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Photo courtesy of Metro Creative 

In a time when all of California is sheltering in place, a trip to the grocery store may be the only trip some people make each week.

But what if even picking up milk and eggs is dangerous? Brentwood resident Seana Fippin said she saw a need for those who were unable to leave their homes and moved to fill it.

“There was really a need and a demand,” she said. “We are doing this to help seniors and the immune-compromised. It’s really for those who can’t or shouldn’t get outside right now.”

Fippin, who has called Brentwood home for 16 years, started an organization called Brentwood Strong that pairs volunteers with residents who would put themselves at risk by leaving the house. This includes groups at a greater risk from the coronavirus, mainly seniors and those with underlying health issues. The volunteers connect with the community member in need, get a list, pick up the items and drop them off, avoiding contact as much as possible to protect everyone in the process. There is no fee for the service, and the community member pays for their own groceries.

“It just occurred to me there’s a lot of seniors who don’t have family or a support network in the area, and this was something people were going to need assistance with,” said Fippin.

As a longtime member of the Brentwood Rotary Club, Fippin knew she lived in a town full of people willing to give their time and energy. She started Brentwood Strong and had the website going the first day of Contra Costa County’s shelter-in-place order and people began signing up to help and ask for help instantly.

Rebecca Baddeley, a single mom who works in the service industry, was dealing with her own fears of the future. When she saw a chance to keep herself and her kids busy by helping someone else, she jumped at it.

“I happened to be one of the first people to sign up for it and within a couple hours, Seana called me,” Baddeley said. “She said, ‘What are you able to do, and are you healthy?’ Of course, all of that comes into play, because we don’t want people who are unhealthy out in the community.”

Baddeley was paired with Jeanne Hampton, a senior. Hampton said she normally does her own shopping but had confined herself to home to avoid getting sick. Her granddaughter heard of Brentwood Strong and signed her up right away.

“Rebecca has been my guardian angel,” Hampton said. “I needed someone. I don’t get around much in the first place, but I’m not getting out at all now, so it’s just been a lifesaver.”

Baddeley and her children have become friends with Hampton through their phone conversations. Hampton said she appreciates both the help and joy the Baddeleys have brought her during the past week.

Fippin noted the website is getting 10 to 20 requests per day. When a volunteer is called on, Fippin ensures they understand the program and any risks associated with it, asks them to wear gloves and asks them if they are showing any symptoms. She said the care and compassion the volunteers show those in need are as important as the supplies they leave by the door.

For more information on Brentwood Strong, to volunteer, request help or donate supplies, visit www.brentwoodstrong.com.

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